Friends reunite as horror in Ukraine town is laid bare after retreat of Russian troops
In the face of tragedy, Borodyanka has become a national symbol of Ukrainian resistance and hope, Correspondent Peter Smith reports with additional newsgathering by camera operator Mark Nelson and producer Andriy Glushko
The search for survivors in Ukraine’s liberated towns goes on, with some still scared to leave their basements despite the retreat of Russian troops.
ITV News visited Borodyanka, one of the towns west of Kyiv where evidence of atrocities was found after Russian troops withdrew to focus on the country’s east.
The town centre had become almost a ghost town and dozens of victims are expected to be found under the rubble of the buildings destroyed during fighting between Russian troops and Ukrainian forces.
Located around 45 miles northwest of Kyiv, Borodyanka was home to more than 12,000 people. As of Thursday, 100 bodies have been recovered. Investigations are underway into alleged war crimes.
Among those residents is Vala Osaulenko, who says she has only just stepped outside, two weeks after Russians left.
“This is the first time I've come out - I wanted to see what they've done with my own eyes,” she told ITV News.
“How many people are still under the rubble? It's horrible what they've done, a nightmare.”
Russian troops occupied the town for weeks while advancing towards the Ukrainian capital in an attempt to encircle it.
They retreated from the city in the last days of March following fierce fighting.
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The speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Rusland Stefanchyk, was also giving colleagues from Eastern Europe a tour of the town - he told ITV News' team on the ground that he wants the whole world to see this.
“The terror people lived through here is now apparent,” he said.
Valentyna Mykolaivna was reunited with her friend just on Thursday, with many in the town now meeting to find out who survived.
“This is the first time I am seeing him since the war started,” she said.
“Four people in his family have been killed, buried under the rubble. Many of my colleagues at the market have been killed. What can I tell you? There are no words. It was horror.”